PEOPLE under 40 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab due to blood clot fears.

Officials said the move was “precautionary” and that the risk of a blood clot is still “extremely small”. 

There have been 242 cases of 28.5 million first doses and second doses of the AstraZeneca jab, according to a Government update on Thursday.

It means the overall chance is just 10 in a million.

Experts say the risks are massively outweighed by the jab’s benefits for most people.

But for the young and healthy, whose risk of severe Covid is very low, the balance is harder to judge.

It is already recommended that people younger than 30 are offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead.

The long-awaited announcement came from The Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a panel of experts which advises the government, today.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for JCVI, said: “Safety remains our number one priority. 

“We have continued to assess the benefit-risk balance of COVID-19 vaccines in light of UK infection rates and the latest information from the MHRA on the extremely rare event of blood clots and low platelet counts following vaccination.

“As Covid-19 rates continue to come under control, we are advising that adults aged 18 – 39 years with no underlying health conditions are offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, if available and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine. 

“The advice is specific to circumstances in the UK at this time and maximises use of the wide portfolio of vaccines available.

“The Covid-19 vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and the benefit for the majority of the population is clear – if you are offered the vaccine, you should take it.”

The vaccine-induced blood clots have been described as unusual. They occur in major arteries, including to the brain, combined with low blood platelets.

Only six cases have occurred after a second dose, according to the UK medicine regulator the MHRA.

People are being urged to take their second jab offer to get optimal protection against Covid.

When to seek help after the jab

The UK’s medicine regulator, the MHRA, says you should seek medical advice if you have had any of these symptoms four days or more after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine:

  • a new onset of severe or persistent headache
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling
  • persistent abdominal pain
  • unusual skin bruising or pinpoint round spots beyond the injection site

Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive said today: “Public safety is always at the forefront of our minds and we take every report seriously.

“Our position remains that the benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca against Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.

"The balance of benefits and risks is very favourable for older people but is more finely balanced for younger people…"

Dr Raine said vaccine safety is "rigorously monitored" and blood clot cases have been "scientifically scrutinised".

“The public should be reassured of our continuing high standards when monitoring these vaccines for safety, quality and effectiveness", Dr Raine added.

“It is still vitally important that people come forward for their vaccination when invited to do so.

“We ask anyone who suspects they have experienced a side effect linked with their COVID-19 vaccine to report it to the Coronavirus Yellow Card website.”

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